Canadiens 2008 draft review

By Jason Menard

On a day that’s generally dedicated to the future, the Canadiens made a move that is hoped to have ramifications on the here and now.

The club, which has been loathe to part with draft picks and prospects over the past few years, shook things up a bit sending their first-round selection (25th overall) and their 2009 second-rounder in return for Calgary Flame forward Alex Tanguay and Calgary’s fifth-round selection (206th overall).

In fact, the club feels the immediate return on its investment is worth it, especially when factoring in the long-term projected worth of the pick. “We’re pretty excited. Everybody usually is at this time of year,” Timmins Timmins, the Habs’ Director of Player Recruitment and Development, said. “We were able to get a top-six forward out of our first-round selection.

“Myself, in my position, I look at the 25th-overall selection as projecting to having third-line upside. Tanguay’s a top-six forward.”

The club was comfortable making the selection due to the wealth of talent and prospects it has amassed over the past few years’ worth of solid drafting.

“We have done a good job developing our [farm] system over the years, so now it was time to make a move,” Timmins said.

Despite trading its way out its first selection, Timmins admitted that they were attempting to trade their way back into the first round. Unfortunately, the club just didn`t have the requisite assets required to obtain a selection.

“Of course, you always want to have a first-round pick, especially late in the round when there was a [Quebec-league] player that we were interested in,” Timmins said. “We didn’t have two second-round picks this year and that’s what it would have taken to move up.”

Timmins added that he thought that some teams were paying a premium for the right to move up one or two spots in the draft. “If there’s a player that you absolutely have fallen in love with, you do what it takes to get him,” he said. “But for that type of movement this year there was a lot of overpayment.”

In addition to this year`s 25th overall selection, the Canadiens also sent their own second-round selection in 2009. The club retained the rights to Washington`s 2009 second-round selection that it obtained in the Cristobal Huet deal earlier this season. The club is hoping that Washington’s pick will have more value, especially if the Canadiens build upon their success from this season.

“Maybe we’re taking some home run swings here with some of these picks, but we really like these players and we feel that they were the best available when we picked,” Timmins added. “There were some Q-players that we coveted but, unfortunately, as we were picking 25th in each round we weren’t in a position to get those players.”

Danny Kristo, F

2nd round, 56th overall
Ht: 5’11, Wt: 172 pounds, DOB: June 18, 1990

The Edina, MN product played with the USNTDP Under-18 squad last season. In 47 games he scored 18 goals and added 13 assists.

“Danny plays a game in line with the new style of the National Hockey League. He has great skating ability and he gets on the puck quickly,” Timmins explained. “Some people say they’re not sure of his hockey sense and that he’s always high tempo.

“We feel that’s a product of the system that he plays in. We did our research and looking back in history, he’s proven that he’s very skilled and showed that back in high school.”

Kristo, who just turned 18 three days before the draft, is committed to the University of North Dakota, but still has one more year of high school development before making that jump.

“We like his development path, but that’s not why we picked him,” Timmins said. “We really liked the player and the [fact that the club retains his rights longer while he’s in college] is a bonus.”

Steve Quailer, F

3rd round, 86th overall
Ht: 6’3, Wt: 184 pounds, DOB: Aug. 5, 1989

“[Quailer] has a lot of raw potential,” Timmins said. “We brought him into Montreal for a mini combine [on June 2]. I’ll admit he’s pretty green, but he’s a big powerful skater and he was the MVP of his team in his first year at the USHL.

“He has an agreement to go to Northeastern, which is an up-and-coming program and we know he’ll develop well there,” Timmins added. “Gene Reilly is an assistant coach there and he was our coach in Grand Rapids when I was in Ottawa. And if something changes, his rights are owned by Seattle in the WHL.”

In 60 games, scored 19 goals and 48 points for USHL’s Sioux City. He added 55 PIMs.

Jason Missiaen, G

4th round, 116th overall
Ht: 6’8, Wt: 193 pounds, DOB: Apr. 25, 2009

Quailer wasn’t the only attendee of the Canadiens’ scouting combine to be selected by the club – there was another attendee who made the cut – and he was a big presence.

Missiaen is an imposing presence in the net. At 6’8 he’s head and shoulders above the competition – pretty much even when he’s in the butterfly. Under 200 pounds, Missiaen will have to fill out, but Timmins said he’s liked what he’s seen – and he’s been fortunate to see him.

“I got to see him three times out of the [18] games that he played,” Timmins said. “He’s a hybrid goaltender and he has extremely quick legs and quick feet.”

Missiaen, stuck behind Colorado draft pick Trevor Cann in the Peterborough system, only got into 18 games in 2007-08, winning eight, losing eight, with one tie. He posted a .911 save percentage and a 3.28 GAA.

So how do you assess a back-up goaltender in his draft-eligible year – a problem that’s increasingly frequent as CHL clubs prefer to go with older, more experienced netminders?

“You hope the other goalie gets pulled and you see him against good shooters,” Timmins said, laughing. “Seriously, our goalie scouts saw him a few times and really liked him, and [Canadiens’ goaltending coach] Rollie Melanson also got a look at him.

“We’re anticipating that he’ll play in more games this season [in Peterborough] and be fighting for the No. 1 job.”

Maxim Trunev, F

5th round, 138th overall
Ht: 5’11, Wt: 174 pounds, DOB: Sept. 7, 1990

“Our Euro scouts describe him as a combination of the two Kostitsyn brothers,” Timmins explained. “He was the MVP of the Mac’s midget tournament earlier this year in Calgary and he’s one of the youngest players in the draft.”

Trunev, a native of Kirovo-Chepetsk, Russia, has average size and room to grow on his frame. He played with Cherepovets 2 in the Russia-3 league.

The absence of a European transfer agreement didn’t scare the club off selecting the young Russian. “He’s already expressed an interest in coming to North America to play in the CHL,” Timmins said. “And we know there are numerous CHL teams interested in him.

“We take the best player at the time, regardless of where they are. If we were concerned about [international hockey transfer issues] we wouldn’t have selected Sergei when we did.”

Timmins said that he expects Trunev’s development path to mirror that of Sergei Kostitsyn – in terms of playing early in junior.

Patrick Johnson, C

7th round, 206th overall
Ht: 5’9, Wt: 155 pounds, DOB: Apr. 21, 1989

Do you believe in miracles? How about bloodlines? Patrick Johnson is the son of Miracle on Ice participant Mark Johnson. He also has some familiarity with an existing member of the Canadiens organization.

“He’s played with [2007 first-round selection Ryan] McDonagh in the past,” Timmins said. “We see him becoming one of the more dominant players in college. He’s produced very well for a strong University of Wisconsin program, scoring 20 points in 36 games.”

The Madison, WI native’s smallish stature belies a passion for the game and heart that he’s displayed throughout the years. “He’s loaded with hockey sense and he’s a warrior,” Timmins said. “He’s just a very strong competitor.”